The 1962 basketball championship made up for the disappointment of 1960 and 1961.
”We had a great team my sophomore and junior years,” Red Raider star Don Yates explained. We lost to Farrell my sophomore year - they had Willie Somerset and Brian Generalovich and my junior year we fell to Mt. Lebanon. We were supposed to win it all and it did not happen.
I was surprised at how successful we were, Raider Allyn Curry recalled. Don Yates was a senior and Ron Sepic had started the year before as a sophomore and Pete Smith, Tom Fee and I didnt and then we had Ben Gregory as a sophomore and Dick Barnes as a senior on that team. That was the squad that Coach Everhart used when we got into the playoffs. But we expected to go to the playoffs every year. That was a given. I think the fans expected us to be in the playoffs every year and go to the state.
Yates and 6-4 junior Sepic were a potent one-two punch for the Red Raiders in 1962.
Without both of us we never would have made it, Yates offered. It was a combination of both. But we won as a team. Sepic was a great rebounder who started our fast break and played great defense.
That was the greatest season of my high school years. We played an exhibition game at Bethlehem and we lost. We come back and we lose our first section game to Monessen. We didnt lose any more. We beat Monessen at the end of the season and ended in a tie for the section. We went to the Field House and we beat Monessen and then we beat every other team after that by 15 points or more.
Uniontown posted a 29-2 record on their way to a state championship.
That particular year we were tied with Monessen for the section title, former Raider Pete Smith said. We had a playoff at the Pitt Field House and we beat them and from that point on we went all the way through. Monessen had a good team. That was when they had Benny Jones, Bill Malinchak and a couple of other guys.
The vaunted Uniontown full-court press propelled the Red Raiders to the title.
Don Yates was the man that covered the guy taking the ball out of bounds, Smith recalled. Tom Fee was on the left side and Allyn Curry was on the right side and I was like midway between the foul line and midcourt and Ron Sepic was back at midcourt and those guys pressed the ball very well and we forced a lot of turnovers.
Uniontown defeated Norristown 70-57 in the 1962 state title game.
Yates was our leader, Tom Fee said. In the championship we were intimidated at the start a little by Norristowns big Jim Williams. On the very first play of the game he dunked one over everybody, but we battled back and the best team won. They were good and their whole team was focused around Williams and Sepic did a good job inside along with Yates. It was just a great time for us and a great time for the city of Uniontown. It was incredible when we were coming back and were met in Connellsville by the fans and it was incredible the support we got from the Uniontown fan base.
Yates paced the Red Raider attack in the championship game with 22 points. Smith added 13 points and Curry notched 12 points. Sepic contributed nine points and led the Red Raiders in rebounds with 12.
The championship game was fantastic, Yates gushed. It was fascinating because that was the first time we had faced a player that tall, Norristowns Jim Williams was 6-7. When the whistle blew we put that press on him and his teammates. It was a great game. What I remember the most is how winning the title made the city so happy. We hadnt won since 1925 and the town loved it and that is what stands out the most."